Brief thought exercise: where would the O.J. Simpson white Ford Bronco chase have ranked as a Twitter event?

Think about this: if 20 years ago tomorrow was, instead, tomorrow — the Internet might break in half. You’d be in the middle of the World Cup — already poised to be the most-tweeted event in history — and you’d be coming off a U.S. game — meaning one of the more me-former nations on the planet would be tweeting up a storm — and then, BAM, one of the most popular NFL players of the modern era maybe kills his ex-wife and goes on a low-speed Bronco Chase throughout Los Angeles. The O.J. Simpson vs. Rockets/Knicks Game 5 paradigm is almost always brought up in the “What if Twitter existed then…?” discussions, along with events like the Moon Landing, the JFK Assassination, other World Cups, John Lennon being murdered, the Beatles on Sullivan (I should have put those last two in reverse order), etc.

Globally, I don’t know what the interest level in the white Ford Bronco chase would have been in a Twitter era. High because a lot of others would be discussing it, sure … but I’m not entirely sure of O.J.’s global resonance. Purportedly 100 million people world-wide watched the verdict in the O.J. trial; compare that to 3.2 billion people who purportedly watched at least some of the 2010 World Cup. One figure is half the entire world’s population; the other figure is 33 percent of just America.

There are different metrics for determining the “most-tweeted events in history,” and different viewpoints on it — see here and here — but one thing is for certain: they tend to involve politics (such as Obama’s re-election or India going to the polls), sports (especially soccer, i.e. Spain winning Euro 2012), and, well, Beyonce. This post goes a little more into metrics like “tweets per minute” and how everything is contextually measured. One important take-away is this: of the 20 major events featured in that official Twitter post, 18 are sports/entertainment-related, and two are politics-related (they were Presidential debates). Since many believe that O.J. Simpson’s drama actually ushered in the era of reality television / the blurred lines of sports and pop culture, you’d have to think it’d be a fairly well-discussed event on social media/Twitter (the company would be loving all these tweets right now, because their model may be getting a little stagnant).

I’d say top-10 global Twitter event of all-time (which says a lot about the world) if it happened tomorrow but everything else was contextually the same — i.e. distance between the actual murder, distance between 1994 and his playing career, NBA Finals still on, World Cup on, etc.

Ted Bauer